In 2012, I met a top Sustainability practitioner (now a dear mentor) and told him about my passion to protect our environment and the women in it. He smiled to me and said, “Oh, another ecofeminist!” The truth is that I had never heard of the word before, or maybe I had not actually taken the concept into proper consideration, needless to be labelled as one.
I have grown from a love for biotransformation and ecological biosphere – to renewable energy, green living and climate change to female reproductive rights to even the exploration of emotional and social implications of abuse on women in their relationships and then to a high level interest in CSR and sustainability, all of which are embodied in the concept of ecofeminism.
I have therefore decided to commit myself to rebuild the cultural values of the society from the economical and environmental point of view so as to obtain the liberation of women and nature through my work, my lifestyle, and my poems.
Ecofeminism as the name suggests is simply the combined product of the women’s liberation movement and the ecological protection movement. It is simply a social trend of thought to promote nature and women, it links major oppressive cultures formed in the society to ecological interactions of the past, present and the future.
A brief history of Ecofeminism reveals that the term was first proposed in 1974 by a French feminist named Francoise d’Eaudbonne in her book – Le Feminisme ou la mort (Feminism or Destruction), where she called on women to lead ecological revolution and establish new relationships between humanity and nature as well as man and woman. Ecofeminism however did not become popular until the 1980s. During this time, there was a high level of ecological crisis and environmental pollution that had come about from the industrial age and massive economic globalization that posed a threat to the whole world, this threat developed an increased demand for resources and energy which always has an adverse effect on the natural environment via a combination of pollution by waste emission and an overwhelmed natural ecosystem; thus resulting to an ecological crisis.
Ecological crisis always impacts the female gender more than the other because women are known to bear traditional roles of managing natural resources and food security. This should be easy to relate to as it is more pronounced in third war countries in Africa and Asia. Women are known to be predominantly farmers in these parts often challenged with ecological crisis such as climate change, soil fertility, drought etc leading to more poverty, physiological and emotional stress and well as overall poor self esteem. There has also been a link between our current “development wave” and the overall deprivation of women – resultant in the sex ratio of birth between boys and girls. In some parts of Africa, the birth of girl child is often frowned upon and that girl-child suffers for it by predominantly being cheated all her life (education, marriage, salary/wages etc)
In the dynamic analysis of environmental problems and social situation of women, ecofeminism helps to resolve most if not all ecological and environmental problems from a gender perspective.
The Feminism of Ecofeminism
The stares I have received from publically pledging (online and offline) my unapologetic allegiance to the feminism have often amazed me, I wish it was just for the countless controversial debates that spur from this one concept or the oppressive patriarchal mindset that has consumed we humans (even women!) to conform to civil baloney in our relationships with each other and our environment.
Ecofeminism is a mix blend of three forms of feminisms: radical, cultural and socialist; radical feminism forms a greater part of Ecofeminism, describing the superiority of women’s reproductive function, focusing on the relationship, caring and loving culture. Radical feminism uses the concept of patriarchy to explain female issues and patriarchy has become the most important theoretical analysis tool of Ecofeminism.
Cultural Feminism on the other hand emphasizes that social gender is constructed by social culture and symbols, it is concerned with issues like environmental pollution. Ecofeminism considers nature and women to be the products of social culture construction.
Socialist Feminism is mainly focused on the economic aspect of feminism; we must understand that Ecofeminism being grounded on ecological fortes often ignores the economics of women in the society. Therefore, this form of feminism reminds us of the important role of women in achieving sustainable development. I wrote on this on International Women’s Day 2016, you may read it here.
The Ecology of Feminism
Ecology is the main focus of Ecofeminism. All thought processes formed from this theory has a singular priority to protect nature even though it is a combination of both feminism and ecology.
Earlier I described the link between ecological crisis and women; ecofeminism often attempts to provide a theoretical and sometimes practical solution to the integration of various “domination and liberation” issues in ecology especially as it impacts women. In issues like over population often called out as the result of most ecological crisis; Ecofeminism points out the need to suppress male power structure and control reproductive functions of women instead of the former.
Another issue is the view of hierarchy as an enemy to society, ecofeminism points out the link between domination of nature and domination of women and the need to address both concepts together to further promote both ecological nourishment and women empowerment/liberation.
I am trying not to go deep into major philosophical standpoints like deep ecology or social ecology; this is just scratching the surface on Ecofeminism.
Ecofeminism versus Feminism
I must however say that Ecofeminism is still “growing up”, there are several differing views with core feminists and even within ecofeminists about all that it really entails. I believe while other schools of thought and trends may come up in the name of Ecofeminism, we must never forget that it is the wholly the effective salvage of the ecology from a woman’s point of view. A few contrast and clashes always come up between feminists and ecofeminist (and I wonder why).
While most ecofeminists affirm qualities considered traditionally as “female” like being supportive, calm (but expressive), cooperative (with obvious pro-womanists and allies), nurturing, and sensual they further strive for a balanced synthesis with qualities traditionally labeled “male” that in appropriate and ideal contexts are deemed valuable, such as competitiveness, assertiveness, and leadership. Some ecofeminist have also rejected the notion that Ecofeminism is even a movement.
Some have argued that in an effort to be “equal,” many mainstream feminists downplay biological female capabilities such as birthing, lactation, and menstruation, many if not all ecofeminists are proud of women’s unique physiology, and feel that equality with men should not come at the expense of disavowing or understating our physical differences.
My Ecofeminism believes that every man has a female part in him and vice versa, and that it is okay to allow these other parts to be expressed, the results of repressed emotions by men often translates in their overly oppressive, abusive, removed, domineering and objectifying relations with women and I feel this is just plain foolishness.
My Ecofeminism will promote, support , preach, advocate and even fight for women (especially black women) in their education, empowerment, liberation and development as long as it is done sustainably via natural resource conservation and management, social inclusivity and development (which is why I also advocate for #BetterMen ), economic growth and poverty alleviation and environment stability and protection. My Ecofeminism believes it is inappropriate to dismiss the power of women as women and that the campaign for equality should be to synchronise both strengths to build a stable and sustainable future for all.